Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Today's Letters No. 5

Dear Hair,
Last week, I was a little frustrated with you and your extreme (and ugly) reaction to the humidity.  I would like to take this opportunity to say, "I'm sorry."  I misunderstood you.  All along, you were just mad I was using cheap-o products on you again.  Evidently, Suave doesn't cut it for you?  I have come to a life-transforming realization, which brings me to a letter to myself today...  

Dear Self,
Be willing to invest in a great hair cut and great hair product.  Hair is worth spending money on.  Hair is not a place to cut corners.  You wear hair EVERY DAY.  Like, more than your favorite jeans or sweater or shoes or even coat and purse.  If you have bad hair, you may as well throw the outfit away, because you still look ugly.  If you have GOOD hair, you can wear a plain gray sweatshirt and be 10 pounds overweight and still look fly (I know this from experience).  Never forget this.

Dear Moroccan Oil,
Why, hello.  It is very, very nice to meet you.  Also, you are hard to spell.  

Dear Will,
Today you said, with a wrinkly nose, "Mama, I smell sump-in."  Then your eyes got wide, "I fink it's chok-it (chocolate)!  Did you eat some-a dat?  I have some?"  You caught me.  I snuck a section of a Hershey's bar in my mouth a minute before - making sure to chew and swallow before I tucked you in for your nap.  And yet you caught the tiniest whiff and called me out.  ...  Once, when your daddy and I were trying to be really healthy and stay away from sugar, he came home from work and kissed me.  It was just a little peck, really, but I could still smell the purple Gatorade he had snuck on the drive home.  Busted.  Anyway, what I'm trying to say is, welcome to the world of highly sensitive people.  You're in great company.

Dear Charlotte,
I know I am a little biased, but you have the most beautiful, pale, soft and golden hair.  I have never cut it - not once - since you were born.  I am a little nervous for the day it WILL get too long.  You are such a strong lady.  Will you go all Samson on me and lose your strength once we cut it?  The thought has seriously crossed my mind.  I don't THINK you're a Nazarite, but I maybe I missed something...

Dear Papa George + Grammy Pammy,
Thanks for the impromptu visit on Saturday.  Will and Charlie keep asking every day if it's time to go back to Grammy's house and sit in Papa's airplane.

Dear Red,
It dawned on me about a week ago when my mom was trying to decide what color to paint her house...  You are my very least favorite color.  Like, I really hate you.  I just hate red.  I especially hate the way you look in pictures - oversaturated and in-your-face.  Even as I write you this letter, I am envisioning The Day the Crayons Quit book and all the grumbling things you might write back to me in your scratchy penmanship.  Gosh, I love that book.  Do you?  

Dear Friends That Text Me and Never Receive a Response, 
I currently have 97 unread and unanswered texts on my phone.  And, another 15 voicemails.  Just wanted to let you know...  YOU ARE NOT ALONE.  #introvertproblems #infj 

Thursday, September 8, 2016

I'm Dreaming of a ... Caramel Apple Party!

If you've read even two posts on this blog, you know I am a little obsessed with parties.  So because it's been, like, three days since my last party, I'm already dreaming of another one...

How fun would a CARAMEL APPLE Trunk Show be?!  

If you type in "caramel apple" ANYthing in Pinterest right now, the results are endless, but My Name is Snickerdoodle had one of my favorite posts.  Simple and beautiful. 

There's always a fine line in party planning - at least for me.  I want it to be beautiful, but it can quickly become overcomplicated.  The balance between simple and beautiful is a very happy place.  In fact, I might even simplify the Snickerdoodle Caramel Apples even more!  For me, it would look like this...

1. Scrounge through my cupboards and shop my house.  In my cupboards, I'd find leftover chocolate chips, shredded coconut, leftover chopped walnuts, leftover sprinkles, cinnamon and sugar (to mix), and Oreos I could use for apple toppings.  I would also find a little platter for the apples and a cupcake tin for the toppings.

2. I'd go to the grocery store and get: Granny Smith apples, microwavable caramel sauce (it's in the apple section this time of year!), chocolate syrup, two squeeze bottles (I think they are about 50 cents at Wal-Mart) and a pack of paper dessert plates and napkins in the party section (also inexpensive!).

3. To prep, I'd dump all the toppings in the cupcake tin and squeeze bottles.  I would NOT cut or prep the apples and instead leave them whole.  (I tried prepping apples once for a larger party and swore I would never do it again.  Why?  1) Because it takes a long time.  2) Because it involves other ingredients like lemon juice or 7up or whatever else to keep apples from browning.  3) I ALWAYS under or overestimate the amount people will eat.  In this particular circumstance, I OVERestimated, leaving me with many, many, many brown slices of apples.  4) Whole apples look beautiful in a larger bowl or platter.  They are decoration themselves.  Brown apple slices?  Not so much.)  I think it'd be fine to leave the apples whole and set an apple corer next to a platter, right?!  DIY, baby!  Anyway, I'd also lay out the plates and napkins, which will take you 2.5 seconds if you've had some practice...

4.  Then I would have a glass of wine and wait for people to arrive.  ...  Just kidding.  I would be chasing my kids around and cleaning up the trail of mess they leave behind, right up until the second people arrive.  

But really, people.  Even if you don't have a million friends over, and even if you don't host a caramel apple TRUNK SHOW, you seriously should do caramel apples at the very least with your family or best buddy.  BECAUSE IT'S SEPTEMBER.  And that is what you do in September, folks.

Happy caramel appleing! 


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Today's Letters

Dear Humidity,
You are suffocating me.  Please go away.

Dear Hair,

I know it's humid out and all, but seriously.  Your freaking out is a little excessive.

Dear Sioux Center Wal-Mart,

I wish you were Target.

Dear Coffee Pot,

I wish you were Starbucks.

Dear Tuesday,

I wish you were Monday.  I need another day to introvert.

Dear Self,

Stop being so grouchy pants.  You have a lot to be thankful for.

Dear Chatbooks,
Thanks for coming in the mail today.  You were a happy surprise on a lame day.

Dear Ghirardelli Chocolate and Red Wine,

You really can fix a lot of things.  I love you.


Liza Jane DeYounge

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Wear it Out: My Journey Towards a More Ethical Closet

In becoming a Noonday Ambassador, I've been learning more about what it means to shop more conscientiously and build a more ethical closet. 

Less sweatshops, less clothing waste and pollution, less cheaply-made and trendy clothing, less closet clutter...  

More dignified jobs and healthy working conditions, more sustainability, more purposeful purchases...

I so want to be a part of this movement, but I've been a little overwhelmed.  So, SO much to research, so much to learn, budgeting to drastically adjust, bulging closets to sort through...  I've decided to at least start somewhere with some baby steps - hoping, over time, they will lead toward bigger changes and movement in building an ethical closet.

I've decided to begin with one of the most obvious steps.  WEAR WHAT I HAVE and WEAR IT OUT.  The concept is pretty obvious here...  Instead of letting items collect dust in the back of my closet, and instead of cycling through clothing quicker than the seasons change, I want to actually wear the pieces I've invested in and use them as long as they'll last.......before buying similar things and letting a lot of wear go to waste.  This will involve getting creative and being flexible, I'm sure!  

I'd love to journey this little adventure with you!

'll be picking some basic pieces from my closet (ones you probably have, too!) and share the ways I'm wearing them more intentionally and more creatively.  In celebration of September, finally a cooler month, I'll be styling my green military vest and trying to get as much wear as possible out of it!  I'm hoping to find ways to wear it twice a week, but hoping that goal isn't too idealistic?!  Help me, Rhonda...  I'll share updates on Facebook and Instagram, so be sure you're following along!

In the meantime, this trailer is a great lead-in to this very large and very important conversation. 


Friday, August 26, 2016

Why Our Summer Didn't Stink

Oh, Summer '16.  You were the best.

I've been sitting here trying to decide if you WERE really the best, or if the last few summers have stunk so much, they're making you look better in comparison...

The summer of 2012 kind of stunk because we spent half of it grieving moving away from Sioux Falls, and especially our crazy Young Life crew.  Oh, how we loved the Young Life season.  We also were in the throes of house hunting in a very expensive market, and I was newly pregnant, so ALL THE HORMONES.  

The summer of 2013 was spent worrying about our new (and first) baby who was sent home from a stay in the NICU with large areas of stroke on his brain and a prognosis that included paralysis and/or cerebral palsy.  I think I spent most of that summer inside with the curtains drawn, as a mom zombie, crying my eyes out and failing at breastfeeding.  Good times.

Half of '14 was spent inside, avoiding the heat like the plague because I was nine months pregnant with kiddo #2.  At the time, Will was only 15 months himself, so the other half of the summer, I was keeping him from killing himself - you know, in eating rocks and running into the street and falling off our front stoop.

Let's see.  '15, Charlotte was just walking, so summer was a little more fun, but still mostly revolved around keeping HER from not killing HERself in eating rocks and running into the street and falling off our front stoop, and there was that one time we tried camping.  Not cool.  

Okay, so I won't complain, Summer 2015 wasn't really that bad - but let me just say, when your children are 2 and 3 (like mine are this year) things change a bit.

1) Instead of following your kids' every movement, protecting them from gruesome accident or sudden death, they can kind of run around and scoot around on their bikes and play in the yard with the neighbors - get this - WHILE YOU OBSERVE.  Like, I could sometimes drink my coffee, sitting down, and just WATCH them play.  (This realization was comparable to the feeling I imagine I'd have in winning the Showcase Showdown at the Price is Right.)

2) They don't HAVE to nap.  Granted, they need to nap 90% of the time, but if you decide you want to go have some special summery fun at the zoo, they can GO and HAVE FUN, even.

3) They are excitable and adventurous.  They jump up and down at the mention of "the pool," every meltdown is cured with a Freezie Pop, they think it's fun to color on the sidewalk and squirt each other with water, they pretend and imagine and create and come up with crazy ideas...

With all of that said, we have turned a corner, people.  2016, you were just grand.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank our very brilliant and hardworking Bucket List for inspiring so many fun activities.  Thank you, BL, for holding us accountable to celebrate the little things and for getting us out a bit.

Some special summer bucket list highlights and memories include...  

Our trip to the zoo!  Charlotte sharing Jess's ice cream at Marty's wedding.  A fun day at the Children's Museum.  Doing an outdoor movie and having a Frozen dance party after.  Lots of picnics and trips to the park.  Lots and LOTS of screams down the slide.  Playing with Grammy's kitties, and four-wheeler rides down the "hallways."  A few trips to the pool.  Hundreds of Freezie Pops.  At least 73 fistfuls of dandelions and daisies.  Playing dolls and ponies and cars and airplanes with the neighbor kids.  Making our own Tropical Sno-cones!  S'mores and campfires.  Catching lightning bugs and camping in our backyard (a much better idea).  Watching fireworks on our patio with Will.  Charlotte's birthday party.  GETTING A MINI-VAN, thank the Maker...

Jesus, You have been good to us.  You were good all those other years, too, but today, I am especially aware.  Thanks for a great summer.  We needed it.


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Charlotte's Jewelry Party

Charlotte turned two this week!  We had a jewelry party to celebrate.

My Noonday coach lent me a couple of her wooden busts for some pretty jewelry display.  I mixed up some grown-up jewelry with some kids' beads, just for fun.

Okay, I had a few kids ask me what these "crystal" things were.  Mark even asked!  Has no one ever had rock candy before?!  Rock candy suckers, people.  They are beautiful AND tasty.

Party favors!

I hacked some pieces of paper and my mama sewed them together as a garland.  This was virtually FREE and was so pretty!

I usually have other things on these shelves, but I stole all of Charlotte's art in her bedroom and brought it out, because ALL THE PINK AND GOLD THINGS....

This was when Mark was offering a beautiful prayer up to the Lord, thanking Him for Charlotte's life, and being so worshipful and wonderful.  ...and I was busy taking pictures because LOOK at her little hands folded up!  Sorry, Jesus.

Charlotte caught me not praying.


This was a little craft display.  We made fruit loop and licorice necklaces and those who finished early got to color Barbie with special markers AND give her sparkly stick on jewelry.

I would now like to take this opportunity to brag about how many coloring contests I won as a child.  I was really a coloring prodigy.  Someday, I will share my coloring contest winning secrets with you all.  They involve glitter, jewels, and shading.  Bam.

Charlotte was more interested in EATING than crafting.  She is her father's child, evidently.

And Will was more interested in playing airplanes.  WHO THE HECK WANTS TO CRAFT WITH ME?  Thank you, neighborhood girls, for participating and making beautiful things to take home.

Here, you will see Lewis, eating all of Micah's hard Fruit Loop Stringing work.  We mothers are so sacrificial.

For dessert, we made Italian sodas (ice, club soda, heavy cream and Torani syrup)!

...and had cupcakes and mini cheesecake shooters.

My mom had beautiful gold spoons sitting in her basement.  Sometimes, I'm glad she is a hoarder.

Charlotte sang Happy Birthday to herself.  She had been practicing for this special moment.  It is really one of her greatest hits.  

This is SO Charlotte.  Messy face, fists tight, physically SHAKING with excitement - it's present time!  She is a very excitable, joyful kid.  Again, totally her father's child.  

The Princess shoe fits!

Diamond cookie party favors.  The backdrop/table cloth is wrapping paper from Target!

Each party favor had a little bead kit attached with some extra string for bracelet-making!

Auntie Naomi and matching tutus.

Auntie Micah and her crazy kimono.

And the smushy-face kiss.  This is a birthday tradition I hope to carry on well into my children's adulthood. 

Happy birthday, Charlotte!  We love you!

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